Social Security Tips for December 2014



Question: I suspect that someone I know is collecting Social Security disability benefits when they shouldn’t be. What is the best way for me to report fraud?

Answer: Social Security has zero tolerance for fraud and uses many proven tactics to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse. Our Office of the Inspector General is relentless in its pursuit of people who conceal work activity while receiving disability benefits. We investigate and seek prosecution for people who receive benefits for a child or children who aren’t under their care, or who fail to notify Social Security of the death of a beneficiary and continue to receive and cash checks of the deceased. We also depend on you to help stop fraud. Please report fraud online at or call the Social Security Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271.

Question: I haven’t received my Social Security Statement in the mail the last few years. Will I ever get one again?

Answer: In September 2014, Social Security resumed mailing Social Security Statements to workers ages 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, and 60 who aren’t receiving Social Security benefits, and who don’t have a my Social Security account. Rather than once every five years, those over age 60 will receive a Statement every year. Instead of waiting to receive a mailed Statement once every five years, we encourage people to open a my Social Security account at so they can access their Statement online, anytime.


Question: Why is it so important that my baby have a Social Security number?

Answer: Your child may need a Social Security number if you are planning to open a bank account, buy savings bonds, obtain medical coverage, or apply for government services for the child. Your child will also need a Social Security number if you are going to declare him or her on your taxes. Getting a Social Security number for your newborn is voluntary, but it is a good idea to apply when your child is born. You can apply for a Social Security number for your baby when you apply for your baby’s birth certificate. The state agency that issues birth certificates will give us your child’s information and we will mail you a Social Security card with the child’s Social Security number. Visit for more information.

Question: I am about to retire, but I still have a young child in my care. Will I receive additional benefits for the child I care for?

Answer: When you qualify for Social Security retirement benefits, your children may also qualify to receive benefits. Your eligible child can be your biological child, an adopted child, or a stepchild. In limited circumstances, you may also get benefits for a dependent grandchild. To receive benefits, your child must be: unmarried; under the age of 18; between 18 and 19 years old and a full-time student (no higher than grade 12); or 18 or older and disabled from a condition that started before age 22. You can read more about planning for a disabled child’s care here:


Question: A few years ago, I lost my Social Security card. Now my credit report shows that someone might be using my Social Security number. I’m afraid they might ruin my credit. What should I do?

Answer: Identity theft and fraud are serious problems, not just for you, but for the financial integrity of our agency. It also puts our national security at risk if someone dangerous is using your number to obtain other forms of identification. It’s against the law to use someone else’s Social Security number, give false information when applying for a number, or alter, buy, or sell Social Security cards. Keep in mind, you should never carry your Social Security card with you. If you think someone is using your Social Security number fraudulently, you should report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) right away. You can report it at or you can call FTC’s hotline at 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4261) TTY: (1-866-653-4261).

Question: I know someone who believes it’s not a big deal to cheat a little on their Supplemental Security Income application. What can I tell them to dissuade them from giving false information?

Answer: Social Security not only seeks criminal charges against and imprisonment of people who give false, incomplete, or inaccurate information, we also have the authority to impose civil monetary penalties against people who commit fraud. When we find evidence that someone provided false information or withheld information that would have prevented him or her or someone else from collecting benefits, we can impose a civil monetary penalty of up to $5,000 for each occurrence. We are also authorized to impose administrative sanctions. During a sanction period, benefits stop. The sanction periods are 6 months for the first occurrence, 12 months for the second occurrence, and 24 months for each additional occurrence. You can report fraud online at or call the Social Security Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271.



I’m not sure when I’m going to retire so I want to estimate my retirement benefit at several different ages. What’s the easiest way to do that?


Using our Retirement Estimator is easy at, and it’s the best way for you to get a good idea of what your monthly benefit payment may be after you retire. The Estimator gives estimates based on your actual Social Security earnings record. Keep in mind, these are estimates and we can’t provide your actual benefit amount until you apply for benefits. You can use the Estimator if you have enough work to qualify for benefits and aren’t currently receiving benefits. If you are currently receiving only Medicare benefits, you can still get an estimate. You can learn about this subject by reading our publication, Retirement Information For Medicare Beneficiaries, available at


My spouse and I have been married for over 30 years and we are about to retire. Will there be any reduction in benefits because we are married?


None at all. We calculate lifetime earnings independently to determine each spouse’s Social Security benefit amount, and couples aren’t penalized because they are married. When both spouses meet all other eligibility requirements to receive Social Security retirement benefits, each spouse receives a monthly benefit amount based on his or her own earnings. If one member of the couple earned low wages or failed to earn enough Social Security credits to be insured for retirement benefits, he or she may be eligible to receive benefits as a spouse. Learn more about earning Social Security credits by reading our publication, How You Earn Credits, available at


Question: I have a relative who gets Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for a disability. She is now legally blind and wants to receive information from Social Security in an alternative format. How do I help them?

Answer: Social Security is dedicated to providing vital information in the most effective way for every individual. There are several ways to receive information from us if you are blind or have a visual impairment. You can choose to receive Braille notices and a standard print notice by first-class mail; a Microsoft Word file on a data compact disc (CD) and a print standard notice by first-class mail; an audio CD and a standard print notice by first-class mail, or a large print (18-point size) notice and a standard print notice by first-class mail. You can request these special notice options by visiting

Question: I have a neighbor who is disabled and has been receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for quite some time. Recently, he’s been trying to find employment. Is there any way I can help?

Answer: Yes. You can help by letting him know about Social Security’s free Ticket to Work program. When people take part in the program, they can get help finding a job, vocational rehabilitation, or other assistance. Employment networks -- organizations that help you find and keep a job while supplying other employment resources at no cost -- provide these services. Ticket to Work gives people the opportunity to work with a variety of employment networks. If you or someone you know is interested in using the Ticket to Work program, visit and click “Find Help” or call the Ticket Helpline at 1-866-968-7842 (TTY 1-866-833-2967).

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